More than 4,000 boxes of flowers aboard a Centurion MD11 cargo plane landed in Miami early May 15 and unloaded Colombia’s first products to enter the United States under the new Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Colombia.
Augusto Solano, president of Asocolflores, the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters, said in a statement that the 80-ton cargo plane carried 4,200 boxes with more than 1.2 million flowers from nine Colombian flower farms. The aircraft lifted off the Bogota runway May 14 at 9 p.m. and arrived at Miami International Airport around 1 a.m. May 15.
Mr. Solano stated that even though Colombian flowers already enjoy preferential tariffs, the passage of the Free Trade Agreement is strategic to ensuring floriculture product permanence in its main market, the United States.
Mr. Solano went on to point out that approximately 80 percent of all flowers imported into the United States come from Colombia. In 2011, Colombian flower sales here reached $950 million, according to Asocolflores
Colombian flower sales to 88 countries include 1,600 varieties and generate more than 150,000 direct and indirect jobs in 48 townships around Colombia. Floriculture is its top-ranked nontraditional agricultural product, with 2011 sales reaching $1.25 million. Colombian flowers also generate employment inside the United States, Mr. Solano noted, producing nearly 225,000 jobs.
The International Trade Commission estimates the deal will expand U.S. product exports by $1.1 billion and support thousands of new jobs in the United States. Colombia hopes the pact will increase trade and lure foreign companies and investors. President Juan Manuel Santos has said the agreement will create 300,000 new jobs over time.
Proexport, the Colombian export promotion group, is holding a Business Matchmaking Forum in New York June 28-29 to capitalize on the Colombia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. In 2011, 38 percent of all Colombian exports went to the U.S. market, Proexport pointed out in a news release, totaling $21.7 million dollars, while U.S. products arriving in Colombia reached $13.6 million. The United States is Colombia’s largest trading partner, and due to the areas included in the trade pact, an increase in trading and investment flows is expected.